• Brandon Glover

Smokey Bear Turns 75

Smokey Bear, the classic American fire-prevention icon, turns 75 years old this year. According to the Associated Press, "The icon of the longest-running public service campaign in the U.S. is being honored with birthday parties around the country." The official Smokey Bear Twitter and Facebook pages have also been sharing vintage smokey advertisements for this occasion.


Smokey has a bit of a history as being featured on one of the earliest Forest Fire Prevention Campaign posters. Before 1944, the campaign had no icons. According to the Smokey Bear official website, there was a propaganda-like poster that had Adolf Hitler with text saying, "OUR CARELESSNESS: Their Secret Weapon." Then the movement had a poster of forest animals asking, "Please Mister, don't be careless." Then, in 1944, Smokey Bear's first poster showed him pouring water on a campfire. The poster said, "Smokey says- Care will prevent 9 out of 10 woods fires." He wasn't featured in another poster until 1947. After 1947, Smokey became the mascot of the entire campaign.


Starting in 1950, the Forest Fire Prevention Campaign started to make radio advertisements. Then in 1970, some of the first television advertisements came out. One featured a match burning slowly. After that, there were fewer posters, but more television ads until the early 80s. In the 1980's, the campaign began to balance posters with televised ads and radio ads. In the 90s, they started doing crossovers with pop-culture such as the Peanuts cartoon characters, but after the 90s, Smokey Bear ads began to decrease in quantity.


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